EPA turns up heat on grills

Published May 25, 1994|Updated Oct. 7, 2005

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken aim at outdoor grills, outboard motors and gas-powered lawn equipment to make those lazy, crazy days of summer a little less hazy.

The EPA, the electric utility industry and lawn equipment manufacturers teamed up Tuesday to promote emission-free back yards through discounts on electric grills and lawn mowers.

At an outdoor news conference, delayed briefly while extension cords were run from a nearby office building, the Edison Electric Institute announced a special discount on the purchase of electric grills and gardening tools.

With a smoke-bellowing charcoal grill behind them for effect, EEI officials said 18 participating utilities will allow customers to trade in used charcoal or gas grills for a $50 discount certificate on electric grills manufactured by Thermos Co.

Tampa Electric Co. is a participant.

In addition, in some areas of the country, used gasoline lawn mowers may be traded in for a discount on electric mowers manufactured by Black & Decker.

Models of the grills and electric mowers were displayed at the news conference, but transportation problems delayed the arrival of a recreational boat powered by batteries and solar panels.

EPA estimates that about 10 percent of the air pollution in the United States is generated from off-road engines, such as lawn mowers, garden tools and motorboats.

EPA is developing the first national emission standards for gas-powered lawn mowers and garden equipment. And this fall, the federal agency is expected to issue standards for marine engine emissions.

Karl Hausker, EPA's deputy assistant administrator for policy, emphasized the voluntary nature of the industry's efforts to reduce backyard emissions.

"We're demonstrating that voluntary partnerships can work to achieve emission reductions and achieve them at a low cost," he said, arriving by electric car to represent EPA Administrator Carol Browner at the event.

Two years ago, he noted, the cost of cordless electric mowers averaged $495, and there were fewer than 5,000 in the marketplace. Today, there are over 40,000 units, usually costing less than $200 each.